In a few short weeks the Kansas Jayhawks football team will wrap up their summer workouts and enter the actual day to day grind of two-a-days.
Turner Gill will kick off his first fall camp needing to replace some pretty substantial losses and find a way to address some major question marks from a season ago.
As a long summer winds to a gradual close, what are the top five question marks facing Gill and the Jayhawks in 2010?
5. Is the offensive line a position of strength?
If there were any expectations for 2010, they were built around the assumption that Kansas would return all five starters on the offensive line and this area would provide some much needed stability.
Kansas is going to be in the middle of a major transition and having Brad Thorson, Trevor Marrongelli, Sal Capra, Jeff Spikes, Tanner Hawkinson and Jeremiah Hatch all return to the field after playing meaningful minutes a year ago should ease that transition in theory.
After spring ball and a summer filled with a few unfortunate injuries, this is slowly becoming a question mark. The Jayhawks struggled to control the line of scrimmage in the spring game finale which raised the first few eyebrows.
Now, it's mid July, Thorson has a broken foot, Hatch is battling a minor injury and Spikes could be stuck on the sidelines as well. Thorson and Hatch should be prepared by the non conference season, but the extent of the Spikes injury is still up in the air.
If a position that had the potential to be a strength sees any significant setbacks, it could create further problems for Kansas.
4. What does the Gill/Long offense look like?
It's one of the top question marks for the Kansas fan, it just might not be the most important one at this point.
Kansas has relied on the spread for the last three seasons and finds itself in a position of replacing three major pieces of that system. Do Turner Gill and Chuck Long feel like they have the pieces in place to continue running that style? Do they want to run that style?
All signs early on seem to indicate that they will but they also won't. During the spring game Kansas had plenty of spread style formations and plays, but the recruiting and personnel changes have the look of a staff that wants to run the ball more. I-Formations, double tight end sets, are these in the Kansas Jayhawks' future?
No one knows just yet, but the days of the five wide, no huddle offense from opening kickoff to the final whistle appear to be on the way out in Lawrence.
3. Can Kansas find a pass rush?
Kansas has been unable to find a consistent pass rush for the better part of three seasons. Even during the 2007 Orange Bowl year, the Jayhawks found the majority of their push from a man in the middle with defensive tackle James McClinton.
In the spread happy Big 12, having speed on the edge makes a difference and is a tremendous aid to any defensive backfield. Kansas enters 2010 with just one, Jake Laptad, bringing any experience to the field.
Beyond Laptad, the Jayhawks will look to a few unknowns to help fill the role. Quinton Woods and Travis Stephens are two junior college players from a year ago that never quite cracked the rotation consistently.
Kevin Young is another strong candidate. Young, a redshirt freshman from Olathe North(KC), has been on campus for over a year and half and made significant strides from a strength and conditioning standpoint. Long-term he has the potential to be a weapon for Kansas, but it's still early in his career.
2. Where have all the linebackers gone?
The linebacker position was a major weakpoint for the 2009 Kansas Jayhawks team and not much appears to have changed.
Huldon Tharp provided a bright spot as a true freshman and does lend a little bit of hope to a fan base waiting for some stability in the front seven.
Beyond that, the Jayhawks will be looking to unproven players and upperclassman who have yet to fulfill expectations. If some of those upperclassman are back at 100 percent after an injury riddled 2009, perhaps Kansas can find an answer to this hole defensively.
1. Who replaces Todd Reesing?
Todd Reesing provided stability at a key position for three years at Kansas. Who replaces him? Coming out of spring ball two candidates have emerged in redshirt sophomore Kale Pick and redshirt freshman Jordan Webb.
Pick does have actual game experience from a year ago and appears to be the front runner. At the same time, he very rarely found himself in a position of actually throwing the football during his spot minutes in the 2009 campaign.
Webb is said to throw a better ball, but does he have the level of athleticism that the new coaching staff wants? Pick or Webb, that's the big question. After Gill answers, then they actually have to attempt to fill the shoes of Reesing.